SPEEDWAY, Ind.– Sam Hornish, Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, finished second in Saturday afternoon’s Indy 250. The result marks Hornish’s best finish of the season to date and the performance enabled him to close within 28 points of the championship lead.
Hornish qualified for the event in the 13th position after turning a lap of 51.652 seconds, or 174.243 miles per hour, around the 2.5-mile speedway during the Saturday afternoon qualifying session. The 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner started the race at a solid pace making his way to the 10th position by lap 15 when NASCAR threw a pre-determined competition caution.
Crew chief Chad Walter called his driver into the pit lane during this caution, electing to take just two right-side tires and fuel which advanced the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge up to sixth-place when the green flag restarted the action at lap 21. Hornish made a bold pass to the inside of two competitors making it three wide going into Turn 1 on the next lap to take over the fifth position.
At lap 36 the leaders began to make green flag stops allowing Hornish to briefly move into the second spot in the running order. At lap 38 the yellow was displayed allowing the No. 12 Penske Dodge to pit under yellow conditions which gave them the opportunity to make adjustments to the car as Hornish reported that the car was too tight on the exit of the corner. At lap 46 the green flag waved and racing resumed with the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge scored in the sixth position.
A key turning point occurred when another yellow flag was displayed and the Penske Racing pit crew would service the Dodge Challenger for the last time on lap 64, giving their driver two tires, fuel with air pressure and chassis adjustments. This move advanced the No. 12 machine four positions and when the green flag flew restarting the action Hornish was leading the way.
Hornish would hold the lead for seven laps until Penske Racing teammate, Brad Keselowski, who had taken four tires on the previous stop passed him at lap 72. Hornish would go to finish the inaugural Indy 250 in second place behind eventual winner Brad Keselowski, giving Penske Racing their third one-two finish in NNS competition.
The result marks Hornish second best-ever finish in Nationwide Series competition and his seventh career top-five finish.
“Well, it was a good day because we gained points on some guys that we’re racing against,” said Hornish. “The easiest way to gain points is by beating them. We had a good day – the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge was good. We made good changes on it, but unfortunately, when we came down to that last pit stop we had to take two (tires) to get track position. I would’ve loved to have been able to take four but we didn’t think that we were going to be able to do what we needed to do in traffic to be able to get around those guys. I am just super-happy for Brad (Keselowski) and the Discount Tire guys getting another win. At the end of the day we’ll just take what we can get. That was our motto today – make sure that we get out there and get some good points and do the best that we can. So, I’m just really happy for all these guys that work on the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge.
The guys that work on this Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger did an awesome job in the pits today,” continued Hornish. “When we were confronted with a decision there at the end, we had to take two to get track position. And lo and behold, we only get a three-lap run before the yellows started happening. We had a good car but we didn’t feel that taking four would put us in position to win. We felt if we could get out of the traffic we might be able to help ourselves out a little bit; just too tight there.”
With the result Hornish and the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge hold fast at fourth in the championship standings trailing first place by 28 points.
Penske Racing teammate, Brad Keselowski was victorious in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge.
Hornish and the No. 12 Penske Dodge team will next race at Iowa Speedway in the US Cellular 250 on Saturday, August 4. Coverage will air live beginning at 7:30 PM EST on ESPN2. The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 90.